Canadian artist Denial (aka Daniel Bombardier) has always used his clever and ironic street art to make sense of his surroundings. Drawing inspiration from pop art and popular culture, Denial creates playfully grim imagery that sticks a nihilist thumb at consumer capitalism, pointing to corporations’ insatiable greed and shoppers’ fathomless gullibility. Sometimes referencing big-name brands directly, Denial’s art holds a mirror up to a world that’s making an absolute fool of itself.
Creatives all over the world are struggling as the pandemic takes hold and opportunities for artists have become few and far between. That’s why we’re giving Denial the spotlight for a month-long takeover on 1xRUN! May I Have Your Attention Please… is a new ongoing series of hand-painted multiples, stencils, and more created by the artist in isolation.
We spoke to the artist about adjusting his process in quarantine, avoiding the news, and spreading positivity through street art. Read our full interview below.
1xRUN: You work in isolation enough as it is––what has changed about your creative process since quarantine?
Denial: Yeah for sure. I actually enjoy working alone a lot. I tend to do a lot of my designing and drawing either very early in the morning (4:00-5:00am) or late into the night, so not much has changed in that regard. As far as painting and packing the artwork, we have been wiping things down and washing our hands more than normal for sure.
I find myself flicking through news networks and sources all day a lot more just because of all the political spin and rhetoric. Hard to gauge “reality” more now… it’s sad actually.
1x: Now that the world has shut down and a lot of your public art projects have been cancelled, how does this Month Long Takeover on 1xRUN play into the new reality as an artist?
Denial: I mean, I am very fortunate to have such rad friends at 1xRUN who believe in me and my sometimes strange ideas. I have had such a wild ride working with all of them, and I think that we all made some really intuitive, smart choices over the years to maintain this symbiotic and beneficial relationship. All those years of working together has lead us to this point, and we have the ability to pivot quickly together and shift our collective energy into seemingly “last minute” ideas.
This concept of the takeover was born of necessity as I was supposed to be the artist-in-residence for Movement Festival, a massive electronic music fest in Detroit that 1xRUN helps curate. We had an entire month planned for that. The festival has been put on the back burner for the moment, so we had a huge gap in the schedule. I am very lucky to have this opportunity, but that shouldn’t take away from the fact that there are still a lot of people working together creatively to put this all together last minute. So, thank you to everyone at 1x!
1x: Your body of work jabs at politics, capitalism, and the end of days, but now that the world has really stopped, are your premonitions as real as you suspected?
Denial: The world is on pause for a very uncontrollable reason, but the reason we are on pause is very simple: to protect the less fortunate, weak and elderly. That doesn’t seem like rocket science to me. I know that this must be very difficult for a lot of people, and I am nothing but humble and grateful for my personal position during this unprecedented event.
My work speaks of impending doom and a lot of crass sinister themes, but that should not mean I desire this to happen at all. I hope my work suggests the opposite: to show the ridiculousness of it all and how we may find better solutions for the future. Shit has to change and that is what I believe my work truly speaks to.
1x: How do you use sarcasm and humor to cope with the crisis?
Denial: I have been doing some street work and some interventions during the pandemic. I wouldn’t say that I am really digging in on the subject yet because we are all still living and dying with this everyday. I don’t know if I am ready to really lay into the errors and political bullshit of it all yet. I have mostly been doing more positive and grateful street art at the moment.
1x: All of us are having a hard time escaping the 24-hour news cycle––how do you stay focused while the world is trying to distract you?
Denial: I do find it difficult to avoid, 100%. I think I need to take more “Bob Marley” days in the studio soon, LOL. Bob makes it all better for a bit. I guess I have been trying to mix up the sources of news at the very least so I can see a fuller picture of it all. More bike rides too, hopefully in the near future. Kate and I have been having fun renovating our old-ass house and cooking a lot of new creations… One day at a time.
1x: What do your fellow Canadians think of Trump’s press conferences? Are they injecting themselves with hand sanitizer?
Denial: I think the stupid briefings are a complete waste of fucking time. There is literally ZERO useful information. He just blabbers out lists of useless numbers and lashes out at the media. He is a fucking vacuum and I hate hearing him speak. I can personally say with some pride that Donald Trump represents about 0% of the people in America that I have ever encountered. I know his supporters exist but I guess I have been lucky to mostly only meet rad Americans. His words are poison and his lies are fuel to the pandemic’s fire. He is causing more pain and death and suffering for the poor every time he opens his useless mouth. Want me to tell you how I really feel?
Follow Denial on Instagram at @enjoydenial.